Regrettably, when many people think of chemicals, the first things that usually pop into their minds are substances of a disagreeable nature — harmful pesticides and chemical pollutants, nerve agents and chemical weapons, or carcinogens and toxins.
But most chemicals play roles of a more positive nature. For example, both water and sugar are chemicals. Why are these chemicals important? Well, for one thing, both are components of beer. The enzymes in yeasts are also important chemicals used in fermentation, a process that involves the breakdown of sugars into beer. Ethyl alcohol is the all-important chemical responsible for beer’s effect on the body. In my view, these three representative examples of chemicals thoroughly rebut the notion that all chemicals are bad.
In fact, those who have a bad opinion of all chemicals must suffer from the psychological condition of self-loathing, because human bodies are essentially large vats of chemicals. Your skin is made up of chemicals — along with your heart, lungs, kidneys, and all your other favorite organs and appendages. And most of the chemicals in your body — in addition to the chemicals in all other living things — are not just any kinds of chemicals, but organic chemicals. So, anyone who has any interest at all in the machinery of living things (or in the chemistry of beer and wine) will have to deal at some point and at some level with organic chemistry.
Of course, the natures of these dealings have historically ...